Yes, Fidel Castro was an evil man

This past weekend Fidel Castro, the longest serving leader of Cuba, died peacefully. The thousands who died under his tyranny, on the other hand, passed away by less than peaceful methods. With the announcement of his death, it was reported that there was celebration in the streets of Miami, with some saying it was the happiest day of their life. Despite this there are some who have publically mourned the dictator’s death, while praising him. I, along with many others, find this disturbing.

Colin Kaepernick, for example, praised the education system in Cuba under the dictator and Castro’s investment in free universal health care.

Former Green Party Candidate for President Jill Stein tweeted, “Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!”

Black Lives Matter gave the statement, “Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante.”

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, said in a statement,

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President. Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation. While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.”

I’d like to respond to these statements and point out the kind of ruler that Castro was.

Castro far from wanted his people to prosper. He used revolutionary language, violence, and scare-tactics to rise to power, and then tortured dissidents who merely disagreed with him. Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, pro-USSR, socialist state under the rule of the Communist Party. He argued for using nuclear weapons against the United States and initiating a nuclear holocaust. Those who disagreed with his regime were thrown in prison or shot. He was an evil man who turned the island nation of Cuba into an island prison, creating prison camps for undesirables and suppressing the press.

Castro established a fraudulent education system that served as a system of indoctrination, deceit, and fear. He created a twin-tier health-care system, where the vast majority of Cubans were given substandard and disastrous health care while keeping the decent health care available for himself and the ruling oligarchy. He claimed that his despotic rule was to preserve these free social welfare projects. Castro basically established an apartheid state by giving foreign visitors rights forbidden from his own people.

He wiped out Cuba’s middle class and turned his citizens into slaves of the state by banning private enterprise and labor unions, taking control of the means of production, claiming all property for himself, persecuting gays, minorities and the religious, and by censoring communication and expression. Over 1.5 million Cubans have fled the island ghetto into exile in the United States with many dying at sea in their attempted escape.

With his concentration camps and prisons, Castro incarcerated a higher percentage of his own people than most modern dictators, Stalin included.

Ana Quintana, a Cuban-American, said in response to Jill Stein’s statement that “for the Cuban-exile community, Fidel Castro was the Cuban community’s Hitler.” She spoke of the firing squads her family had to hide from and how repulsive Stein’s comments were.

When Trudeau says Castro is “a larger than life leader”, “a legendary revolutionary and orator”, and a “controversial figure”, these don’t really mean anything – one could describe Adolf Hitler in these terms. Apparently murder and torture are controversial activities.

And Castro had “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people”? He must have loved his people so much that he just couldn’t let them go and just had to put them in labor and prison camps to keep them close.

This particular part of Trudeau’s statement produced the humorous and mocking hashtag #TrudeauEulogies, a hashtag accompanied by twitter users guessing at what the Canadian PM might say at the deaths of other “controversial” historical figures.

The amusing and provocative #TrudeauEulogies hashtag included:

“Osama Bin Laden was certainly a controversial figure, but his contribution to airport security is unparalleled.”

“If nothing else can be said for Hannibal Lecter, at least he had great taste in people.”

“Today we mourn painter and animal rights activist, Adolf Hitler. His death also highlights the need for suicide awareness.”

“While controversial, Darth Vader achieved great heights in space construction & played a formative role in his son’s life.”

“Mr. Stalin will be fondly remembered for increasing tourism to the otherwise unwelcoming Siberia.”

I think the reign of Fidel Castro is best understood by the lives he destroyed. I’ll finish with the story of Armando Valladares, now a poet, diplomat, and human rights activist, but once a common example of a “dissident” under Castro’s dictatorship. Armando Valladares was an early supporter of Castro who simply refused to put “I’m with Fidel” on his desk. He was then arrested and jailed on trumped up charges of terrorism. He spent 22 years in in prison camps around the country before being offered an “early” release if he agreed to “political rehabilitation”. When he refused he spent the next eight years locked in a blackout cell, without sunlight or artificial light. He was naked and stuck in a cell, ten feet long, four feet wide, with a hole in the corner to take care of his bodily needs with no running water. He was tortured and beaten, even forced to eat other people’s excrement. This was for disagreeing.

Fidel Castro was an evil man, a man of tyranny who ruined millions of lives. Those who praise the dead villain would not be so quick to speak of him in admiration if they or their family had experienced even a fraction of that of the Cuban people.